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The Geno Coaster's legacy with Jets: Early flash and mysterious turn

In 2013, his rookie season, Geno Smith showed some flashes of potential by leading two Jets comeback wins and five game-winning drives. Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. What might have been: Geno Smith is on the verge of signing with the New York Giants, so let's take a moment to reflect on his four years with the Jets.

It was turbulent, to say the least. There were too many interceptions and too many off-the-field incidents, namely the IK Enemkpali punch. It's too bad, because the Jets were optimistic about his future after an encouraging finish to his rookie year.

Then something happened. There was an attitude change in Smith, and it frustrated people within the organization, sources said. One source said he "wasn't the same kid" in 2014, and no one seems to know why.

The brush fires started in January 2014 when a dispute with a flight attendant resulted in his removal from a plane at LAX. Smith added to his woes by cursing out a fan (caught on video) and missing a team meeting in San Diego because he got confused by the time change. Then, in 2015, it was the broken jaw, followed by the torn ACL in 2016. Talk about an ill-fated run.

Now Smith, still only 26, gets a chance to reboot his career as a backup in a stable, stress-free environment, learning from Eli Manning. Some talent evaluators still see the potential he flashed as a rookie in 2013.

"Before his string of immature incidents and the injury," one league source said, "he did have a few comeback wins in his rookie year."

Two comebacks and five game-winning drives, to be exact. Now he's facing his toughest comeback.

2. Blue skies: The Giants seem to have an affinity for ex-Jets: Smith, Brandon Marshall and Damon Harrison last year. It's kind of ironic, isn't it? The Jets are supposed to be talent-poor, yet they seem to be helping the Giants' Super Bowl aspirations. Assuming Smith and Marshall make the team, they'd be the 56th and 57th players to play for both New York teams.

3. A new "24" drama: Now that Morris Claiborne is officially a member of the team -- it was announced Saturday -- the Jets have a situation. He wore No. 24 during his five-year stay with the Dallas Cowboys, and that number, of course, belonged to recently released Darrelle Revis, who could be in the Hall of Fame some day.

What now?

The Jets didn't show much jersey love for Revis in 2013, the year they traded him after an acrimonious contract dispute. In training camp, they gave No. 24 to a free-agent running back named John Griffin. He didn't make the team. During the season, the number was worn for two games by kickoff returner Darius Reynaud.

Claiborne, who drew Revis comparisons when he came out of LSU in 2012, is on a different level than Reynaud and Griffin, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. The early word is that he doesn't have a number yet. Maybe he'll do what Latavius Murray did upon signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He always wore No. 28, but he said he had too much respect for ex-Viking icon Adrian Peterson to ask for his old number. He will wear No. 25.

4. Cutting corners: The addition of Claiborne was the first step in rebuilding a vital position in Todd Bowles' defense. It won't be the last move; look for the Jets to draft a corner, perhaps in the first or second round. Here's the thing, though: The team's recent track record for picking corners is terrible. This goes back to the previous regime.

There have been poor free-agent signings (Revis 2.0 and Antonio Cromartie 2.0) and disappointing draft picks (Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle). The jury still is out on Juston Burris, a fourth-rounder from last year. The best pickup? Buster Skrine, a pricey free agent who has been a solid contributor. The Jets need to reverse this trend because Bowles' defense, predicated on man-to-man coverage, is only as good as its corners.

5. A Mo better person: Claiborne never lived up to expectations in Dallas, but he should benefit from a change in scenery. In Dallas, he faced intense scrutiny from Day 1. That's what happens when you're drafted sixth overall (2012) by America's Team. He also had to deal with the embarrassment of his Wonderlic score being leaked to the media. He scored only a 4 out of 50, one of the lowest in history. In 2014, he stormed out of the facility and missed a walk-through after learning he had been demoted. From all indications, he has matured over time. The pressure certainly won't be the same as it was in Big D.

6. Cap update: The Jets are $22.7 million under the salary cap, according to the NFLPA. But that doesn't include the Claiborne (one year, $5 million) and Ben Ijalana signings. Ijalana's paperwork still hasn't been filed with the league. Once they catch up on the bookkeeping, the Jets will have approximately $16 million in cap space, about half of which will go toward the draft.

7. An early Winters: We tend to forget about it because it happened two months ago, but the Jets made a smart move by locking up pending free agent Brian Winters. The guard market blew up at the opening bell of free agency, so they probably saved money by being proactive. Kevin Zeitler ($12 million average per year, $31.5 million guaranteed) landed the largest guard contract in history. Players closer to Winters' level also did well for themselves -- T.J. Lang ($9.5 million APY, $19 million guaranteed) and Ronald Leary ($9 million APY, $19 million guaranteed). The Jets got Winters for a $7.25 million average, including a $15 million guarantee.

8. Don't let them eat cake: The Jets are 0-for-2 on birthday celebrations. You probably recall what happened last Oct. 22, Muhammad Wilkerson's 27th birthday. They bought a cake and planned to serve it in the defensive meeting room, but Wilkerson was a no-show -- one of the reasons why he was eventually benched for a quarter. Then, last Sunday, they gave cupcakes to Dont'a Hightower on his 27th birthday, which coincided with his free-agent visit. You know how that turned out. No word on whether quarterback Josh McCown received any green-colored sweets on his St. Patrick's Day visit.